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dad carrying baby in car seat

Installing a baby car seat can be difficult. Here we share tips on fitting children’s car seats, safety and information on the various types.

Choosing the right baby car seat and fitting it correctly go hand in hand. Common fitting problems can include twisted seatbelts, loose harnesses, not all Isofix points being connected and seatbelts sitting incorrectly on your child.

It might feel complicated but there are simple things you can do to address these problems and ensure your car seat is fitted correctly and safely.

Trying out the baby car seat

When you first try the car seat in your car, check it fits neatly with the shape of the interior. If you're using it in more than one car, check it fits well with each of them.

For some children's car seats, this may require you to remove the car’s head restraint.

Can we use the front seat?

If possible, fit a child car seat in the rear of your car, and never fit one in front of an active air bag. Some cars allow you to disable the airbag – it won’t deploy so it's safe to install a rear facing child car seat. But always make sure you activate the airbag again before the seat is used for an adult.

For forward facing seats, you need to check the vehicle handbook for advice about airbag activation.  Some car manufacturers allow the airbag to remain on; others require the airbag to be switched off. Generally, the back seat is safest for children.

If you really prefer to have your child in the front, always keep the passenger seat as far back as possible. Ensure the front seat is not too close to a child sitting behind the front passenger seat. Also, be careful when moving the front seat back that it doesn’t cause the seat belt anchor point (where the seat belt attaches to the car) to sit in front of the child seat. If the seat belt anchor is in front of the child seat, this can cause instability in the fitting.

Read more about car seat safety and the law here.

Tips for fitting car seats for babies

  • Ask your retailer to provide a demonstration of the features of your car seat, how to make adjustments and how to fit it in your car.
  • Read the instruction booklet and keep it safe. It will be useful when you need to make adjustments as your child grows.
  • Check your child car seat before each trip for signs that it's installed firmly and that it's adjusted to the height of your child.
  • Never modify a child car seat in any way.

This page was last reviewed in June 2022.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

The Good Egg Car Safety website contains further information and you can ask questions about car seats via the website.

Which? has a useful article about how to fit a car seat.

You could check the RoSPA Child car seat fitting and compatibility webpage to see whether particular child seats would fit your car.

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dad carrying baby in car seat

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